New Laws is pleased to bring you this post in which Minister of Justice Simon Power has announced that a Bill which will amend the Crimes Act to provide stronger protection for children from violence, neglect and sexual offending passed its first reading in Parliament this week with very widespread support across party lines.
“The Crimes Amendment Bill (No2) recognises that children are among the most vulnerable members of society and deserve special protection,” Justice Minister Simon Power said.
“The bill creates a new offence, with a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, for failing to protect a child or vulnerable adult from serious harm by a member of the same household as the victim.
“The offence applies to people who do not live in that household but are so closely connected with it that it is reasonable to regard them as a member of it, as well as staff members of a hospital, institution, or residence where the victim lives.
“The offence recognises that it’s not just parents and caregivers who have responsibility for protecting our children and other vulnerable members of our community.”
New laws understands that some sentences are doubled from a potential maximum of 5 years to 10 years including those for neglect of a vulnerable adult as well as ill-treatment of a child. This also extends to the duty imposed on a parent or caregiver to ensure that all possible steps are taken to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm and injury.
“This bill has been carefully crafted to balance personal responsibility and criminal liability, and I look forward to reading the submissions to the select committee to ensure the balance is right,” Mr Power said.
Other issues addressed in the Bill include:
- Provision for prosecution of people participating in ‘sexual grooming’ by police covert operations.
- Increased maximum sentences for those who are convicted of offences of carrying an offensive weapon. The maximum custodial sentence will increase to 3 years from 2 years.
The Bill will now be referred to select committee for the public submission process.
The aim of this new laws blog is to keep readers up to date with developments in New Zealand Law. In the event that you have a query on a specific legal issue you are recommended to contact your Christchurch Lawyer or in the case of property, your specialist property law solicitor.